Deer hunters upset with Stewart Island eradication plan

The proposal to make Stewart Island predator free is opposed by deer hunters.

Under the proposal, rats, feral cats and possums would be eradicated by the toxin, brodifacoum, with deer repellent added to the aerial bait.

Stewart Island-based nursing specialist Martin Pepers said he supported the conservation efforts but opposed the idea of an aerial bait drop of the toxin and the construction of a predator-proof fence around the township.

‘‘Island people aren't going to wear this. ‘I don't like seeing the rights of New Zealanders prostituted for tourist dollars.''

Mr Pepers said hunting was part of Stewart Island's rich history and it was a ‘‘boutique herd'' worth protecting from toxins.

Invercargill MP Eric Roy, an experienced deerstalker, said he was surprised the draft report recommended brodifacoum over 1080.

‘‘While I agree deer repellent is the best way to protect the greater proportion of the deer herd, I am not so sure about brodifacoum.''

‘‘It can remain in the body for life, but 1080 can be purged in just 48 hours.''

National Poisons Centre medical toxicologist Dr Michael Beasley said brodifacoum was on a par with 1080. ‘‘But you could get sick from lower doses of brodifacoum than 1080.''

The major concern for humans was if a person accidently ingested large quantities of the toxin, but despite its toxicity, Dr Beasley said brodifacoum had an antidote, vitamin K.

Deerstalkers Association Southland branch spokesman Ray Phillips said the issues had not been discussed by members but considered an aerial drop unlikely.

The association wanted to get rid of rats, and branch members had adopted 300ha of coastal forest on Stewart Island for ongoing rat and cat control to complement Doc's possum control operations, Mr Phillips said.

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